Stephen Gallacher was characteristically understated in answering how it feels to be making his Ryder Cup debut this week at a course he estimates he has played over 100 times and which is just half an hour’s drive from his home.
“It’s not bad.”
The 39-year-old Bathgate man doesn’t do over-exuberant. He’s neither flashy, nor a show-off. That, though, is not to say he’s not immensely looking forward to what the culmination of what he describes as a ‘very conscious effort’ over the last two years to make this particular side.
“I’m a proud Scot,” explained Gallacher, a three-time European Tour winner. “I can’t wait to get started, I’m really excited about it.
“Making this team was a lifetime ambition of mine, a goal. I’m proud to be sitting here now. It’s a little surreal still, especially living so close by, but it’s great.
“The hard thing is to conserve your energy. You’re here quite a long time before the Friday start. My uncle told me it’s a long week – early mornings and late nights – so rest when you can, get your game plan and just be ready for the three days.”
“My teammates have made me feel very much at home and part of the squad.” - Stephen Gallacher
The uncle he makes reference to, of course, is three-time European captain Bernard Gallacher. Since making the team as one of Paul McGinley’s three picks at the start of the month, Gallacher admits the two have chatted regularly about what he can expect this week.
“I spent the week with him when my gran was ill in the hospital and he was sort of chatting away, basically giving us good advice, nothing new that I haven’t had from the five backroom staff on the team.
“Ultimately, he wants me to enjoy myself, take a time-out to soak it in. You know, just be yourself, play your own game.”
Whilst he is a rookie in terms of this being his first Ryder Cup, Gallacher says he will use the experience he has collected in 19 years as a professional to help him cope with the pressures that this week will invariably bring.
“I’m 39-years-old, I’m not a rookie to golf,” said Gallacher, who is currently ranked No.34 in the world. “I’m a rookie to the Ryder Cup but not golf. Having the match in your own country is maybe making it a bit easier to adapt and I know all the guys really well. Jamie Donaldson is the same age me, Lee Westwood I’ve know since my amateur days.
“My teammates have made me feel very much at home and part of the squad.”
As much as he is trying to keep a lid on his excitement, it’s only natural that Gallacher has allowed his thoughts to drift towards hitting his first shot in the match, whenever that may be. Paul McGinley, he admits, has given him an idea of when he might feature, although he wouldn’t be drawn further on it.
“I’m hoping I’m going to really enjoy it,” Gallacher said. “You come under the tunnel and the last person you see is Seve. You’re seeing all the greats on both sides, European and American.
“You come up the tunnel and you go up the hill and walk around and it’s like walking into a football stadium. was full yesterday and there were people down the left, as well, ten deep.
“I hit a good drive, so hopefully I can just try and imagine it was Tuesday . The good thing for me is that I’ve never experienced it. You make nerves how you make it really. It’s one of those ones.
“The first tee at the Masters was pretty good and the first tee playing at St Andrews is nice. I know this is going to be tougher, but I’m hopefully going to enjoy it.”
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